Monday, April 1, 2013
Latest Review of The Azimuth Trilogy
I decided to wait until I’d read all three of these excellent books before reviewing, because I knew in advance that the threads of the first continue all the way through to the end of the third. Now, my memory of the first book is almost as a prelude to the other two.
There are two main stories in the trilogy: That of “the Magus”, a semi-historical, semi-mythical warrior/philosopher; and that of Kamil the historian, set centuries later in north Africa (but a long time before the present day). Throughout the book, the tale of the Magus is told by Kamil to Princess Sabiyah, the impetuous and fiery – yet sharply intelligent – heir to the throne.
In the first book, we get to know these and other principle players. As the history of the Magus’s youth unfolds, and his character is forged in fragments of history (each linked thematically to a Tarot card), Kamil and the princess become embroiled in dangerous politics and – of course – their own destinies begin to be affected by the Magus’s tale.
At first the reader may assume that Kamil’s is the “main” story, but as the first book nears it’s conclusion the legend of the Magus gathers pace and becomes gripping in it’s own right. However, I never felt that the changes between the two worlds were jarring or contrived – I was allowed to slip gracefully in and out of the different periods in history (or legend).
In the second book, the Magus is now a man, and so his story becomes less fragmented, and has more direction and momentum; meanwhile a unique and fearsome enemy enters the lives of Kamil and Sabiyah. This new character’s terrifying exterior and malevolent intent are perhaps my most vivid memory of the whole trilogy, and events are set in motion which have repercussions right through to the startling double-conclusion of the third book.
All of the characters are dynamic, fascinating and occasionally shocking. The rotund and studious Kamil in particular is a delight, as he reluctantly becomes entangled in a sinister and complex plot.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a “fantasy” novel. Rather it reads like a mix of history and legend. An “alternative history”, perhaps, which reminded me in places more of “Le Mort D’Arthur” than “Lord Of The Rings”, though with the concise descriptiveness of William Golding’s “The Inheritors”. As a result the trilogy has a timeless quality – it seems impossible that it could have been written at the dawn of the 21st century. This will surely become a classic.